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The Benefits of Christian Schools

By Al King

There are many educational options available today - public, charter, online, private, and parochial. The education of a child is a critically important parental responsibility. Students spend approximately 15,000 hours in school from kindergarten to 12th grade. The teachers, curriculum, and friends young people encounter will shape them in profound ways. Therefore, it's vital that parents choose a school that aligns with their family's values, philosophy, and beliefs.

A private Christian school is one educational option available today. Christian schools have existed in one form or another since the 1st century. They've been organized in Roman catacombs, Gothic cathedrals in Geneva, thatched huts in Africa, and high tech campuses in Asia. Regardless of the setting or era, the general purpose of a Christian school is to partner with families, equipping students to reach their highest God-given potential and make a difference in the world.

While nuances exist from school to school, the mission of most Christian schools is to educate children in a way that aligns with a Christ-centered worldview, as expressed in the Bible. A Christ-centered worldview informs a Christian philosophy of education, which affects every aspect of school, from the hiring of teachers, to the selection of curriculum, to the manner in which students are taught, mentored, and coached.

There are numerous benefits of a Christian school education. First, teachers and administration share the biblical values of parents and are committed to supporting those values at school. Through chapels and Bible classes, students are directly taught the Scriptures and provided opportunities to worship.

Secondly, students are exposed to a curriculum integrated with a biblical worldview. For example, an educational philosophy that begins on a foundation that God is Creator, enriches classroom discussions on the complexity of biology, the vastness of the universe, and the precision of mathematics. A christian worldview also impacts the "hidden" curriculum. Students are shaped as much from what they "pick up" in the culture of a school by what they are directly taught. The genuine concern of a teacher, the language of a coach, and the behavior and habits of peers - these all have a powerful affect on the shaping of a young person's attitudes and character. Christian schools are intentional about creating a culture or "hidden curriculum" that fosters virtue and spiritual growth.

Class size and student/teacher ratio is another benefit of attending a private Christian school. Class sizes tend to be much smaller, allowing teachers greater personal interaction with students. For instance, at Oklahoma Christian School, in Edmond, Oklahoma, careful attention is given to maintaining small class sizes, with the average high school class size being around 15 students. This is a tremendous benefit and pays dividends as students prepare for higher education and professional life. In the last ten years, OCS students have attended 58 colleges and universities across the United States. Fifteen National Merit Scholars have graduated from OCS since 2003, three in 2015.

Another important benefit of attending a Christian school is related to co-curricular participation. Students eager for involvement in co-curricular activities find schools like OCS the perfect place. Smaller student populations allow for greater levels of participation. While OCS has won state championships and even graduated two professional basketball players, students don't have to be superstars to participate. At OCS, for instance, over 95% of the student body participates in athletics or other co-curricular activities. In the fall, OCS students participate in football, cheerleading, cross country and volleyball. Basketball is the primary winter sport, and baseball, golf, soccer, tennis, and track are offered in the spring. Other co-curricular offerings include Robotics Team, Jazz Band, Art Club, National Honor Society, Academic Team, French Club, Spanish Club, and Drama Team. In addition, OCS students participate in local community service as well as international mission trips to Jamaica and Nicaragua.

While the benefits abound, Christian schools are not Utopian institutions and confront many of the same challenges of their secular counterparts. Children still test the boundaries of authority, carpool lines still get congested, and relationships still require work. What makes a Christian school unique, however, is a commitment to addressing the complexities and imperfections of life in a way that honors God and others.

While unique, Christian schools are not new. They've been around for two millennia, maintaining the primary purpose of equipping students to reach their highest God-given potential and make a difference in the world. Parents in Edmond, Oklahoma are blessed to have numerous educational options. The 15,000 hours a child spends in school, however, will shape their future. It's critical then, that this decision be made carefully and with as much information as possible. The Christian school option may in fact be the right choice for many families. For more information on Christian schooling and Oklahoma Christian School, contact the OCS admissions department at 405-341-2265.

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